CLAY, W.Va. (AP) — As a small West Virginia community tries to move past the backlash of a racist Facebook post that targeted first lady Michelle Obama, a council member had some inviting words for outsiders who look down on her town.
“Come see us,” Joyce Gibson said. “Spend a day with us. If I knew you would come, I would bake a cake. We’re very decent people.”
Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling resigned Tuesday and the Town Council later met to accept it. The resignation came after another woman whose post Whaling responded to was placed on leave as director of the nonprofit Clay County Development Corp.
The council meeting was brief, with councilman Jason Hubbard reading a statement condemning the “horrible and indecent” post. He apologized on behalf of the town to Michelle Obama and anyone who was offended.
“Please don’t judge the entire community for one or two individual acts,” Hubbard said.
The council plans to act quickly to name a replacement for the remaining three years of Whaling’s term.
“She was a good mayor, I thought, and she knew how to get things done,” Gibson said. “It’s just a shame that this has happened. But, you know, there could be good things come out of it.”
She doesn’t know what that will be or how the town will repair itself “unless we just go day by day to live like we have lived,” Gibson said.
Clay County Development director Pamela Ramsey Taylor made the post following Republican Donald Trump’s election as president, saying of incoming first lady Melania Trump: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”
Whaling responded: “Just made my day Pam.”
Whaling later issued a written apology to news media outlets, saying her comment wasn’t intended to be racist.
“I was referring to my day being made for change in the White House! I am truly sorry for any hard feeling this may have caused! Those who know me know that I’m not in any way racist!”
Taylor, who told WCHS-TV on Monday night that she was put on leave, did not return a call seeking comment.
Gibson said the post gave the town of about 500 residents a label it didn’t want. After news of the post circled the globe, the small office’s voicemail system quickly filled to capacity with irate callers. An online campaign calling for Taylor and Whaling to resign drew tens of thousands of responses.
The nonpartisan town council has five members, plus the town recorder and mayor. Whaling’s seat was empty during Tuesday’s meeting in a small office attended by a few local residents along with several journalists and some people from outside the area who said they wanted to see justice served.
Annie Thacker of Barrackville drove 117 miles to the meeting.
“I saw what was happening in small town West Virginia,” she said. “I’m from small town West Virginia. I wanted to see hate put down in West Virginia, especially after this election cycle. Everyone’s watching.”
Lish Greiner of Belpre, Ohio, said she had volunteered during flood cleanup in West Virginia over the summer and returned for the town council meeting because “I will not tolerate hate in my home and in my area.”
Clay County Development, which provides services to elderly and low-income residents in the county, is funded through state and federal grants and local fees. It is not affiliated with the town of Clay, which is about 50 miles east of Charleston.
The uproar occurred as the town is still trying to recover from severe flooding in late June along the nearby Elk River. Clay County also has been hit by hundreds of layoffs in the coal industry this decade.
Gibson was asked what was worse, the flood or the attention from the Facebook post.
“I’ll have to think about that,” she said. “This (backlash) will go away.”
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 30
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 30
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 30
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 30
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 30
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 30
8. new new
8 of 30
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 30
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 30
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 30
12 of 30
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 30
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 30
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 30
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 30
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 30
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 30
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 30
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 30
21 of 30
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 30
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 30
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 30
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 30
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 30
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 30
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 30
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 30
30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
30 of 30
Continue reading West Virginia Town Tries To Move Past Racist Michelle Obama Post